Taxing Time


Another tax-year gone, and I’m stuck with a bucket of receipts. The usual deduction issues ensue – are contract killers a reliable contract-enforcement expense? If I had fun watching an anime, can I still call it work? When I buy a copy of Golgo 13, it’s for work purposes only. It’s not like I enjoy it.

Anime companies have the same problems with media accounting. If a director has a packet of peanuts, is that ‘entertainment’ or ‘subsistence’? But there are perks, largely tied up in the sector of anime shows that take place outside Japan. There’s nothing an anime crew likes more than a roké-han, a ‘location hunt’, otherwise known as the thinly disguised staff holiday. No works outing to Grimsby for Japanese animators – imagine the misery of the Gunsmith Cats crew when they were all carted off to Chicago to drive fast cars and play with guns. They even filmed it as part of the Making of documentary. You see, they told the tax man, it was research.

Once you get your head around the accounting complexities of office perks, some of anime’s weirder moments make more sense. In Detonator Orgun, the invading alien robot action grinds to a halt for a whole minute while the female lead explains that she’s driving a replica of a 1963 E-type Jaguar. Pause for loving pans across the car’s flanks, zooms on its upholstery, and general auto porn. Well, someone had to get hold of a Jaguar for research purposes, didn’t they? And after that, they’d damn well better use it or face a tribunal. Does this mean that if I write about a date with a voice actress, I can claim for it on expenses? I asked my accountant if a dirty weekend could ever be tax deductible.

“Only if it’s with me,” he said, somewhat creepily.

Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. this article previously appeared in NEO #6, 2005.

9 thoughts on “Taxing Time

  1. Bubblegum Crisis suddenly makes makes alot more sense. I always wondered why the Knight Sabers had a holiday in Bali live action special.

    Also highly amused that the article has a “Grimsby” tag. I`m sure that will be very useful.

  2. You did the commentary for Glogo 13 didn’t you, JC? Did you say you didn’t like the show on that commentary? Did you desperately look for redeeming features or spend 100 mins pointing out how rubbish it was? That would be fun.

  3. You’re absolutely right, Mark. I did indeed record a commentary track on the Golgo 13 DVD in the UK, on which I say on several occasions that I thought it was ludicrous. But my own personal feelings about the film shouldn’t and didn’t stop me from examining it in its rightful place in anime history: as an early use of CG, as a powerful example of Osamu Dezaki’s distinctive style, its relationship to Takao Saito’s early career drawing the manga spin-offs of James Bond films, and the way in which it was sold in foreign markets. I think I also came up with some top tips about flower-arranging, which played an unexpectedly important part in the plot.

    I think I’ve recorded commentaries on nine or ten anime now, but I think that I personally have only been a bona fide “fan” of a couple of them.

  4. We’re facing a similar parallel legal dilemma here. Pam and I are teaching an anime course on Miyazaki this semester at UT Dallas. The university high sheriffs have handed down new rules about copyright uses in the classroom. It is okay to show a film in a class if it’s educational, but not if it’s entertaining. So we told our students that we are cracking down on them and they may no longer enjoy any of Miyazaki’s work in our class. Maybe we should have a course on Gogol 13 next semester. That would solve the problem! ^_^

  5. I remember watching it with some university friends back in 1998- needless to say they were not converted to the anime cause by Golgo 13….
    Manga James Bond? Sounds intriguing….

  6. As someone who loved Orgun, i did find that scene somewhat… ‘huh?’ I must say I Really did enjoy your commentary on that, even if it did prompt me to chase down the American release (being told a couple favorite Japanese voices were in the original language version on a dub only dvd did feel a bit like adding insult to injury)

  7. Shaun, at the time I did that commentary I had been told that both language tracks would be available on the DVD and that it would be split into three episodes — that’s why my commentary stops after the first third of the Orgun “movie”, because I’d only agreed to talk over the first episode.

    As happens so often, the people doing the DVD discovered to their cost that shoving on two language tracks was not quite as easy as they’d assumed, particularly when the English version only existed on an edited master.

  8. that certainly puts things in another light – Id assumed at the time this had been due to cost cutting measures by the company in question. I apologies if my tone made it sound like I was annoyed with you – I wasn’t. In truth, I still have that DVD even after buying the American release just so I still have that commentary.

  9. No worries — but it always annoyed *me* that I was left talking for ten minutes about the Japanese language track when nobody could actually switch over and hear it on the disc.

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